PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Serious business, this afternoon tea.
“Setting up is the most important part of the game,” said Chattaway Tea Room matriarch Jillian Frers. There are saucers, cups, tiny. “It’s about a beautiful girls get together where we talk our little secrets that we don’t talk.”
Frers’ tea room is ensconced in the St. Pete landmark, the Chattaway, with its large outdoor patio and eclectic décor, like claw foot bathtubs, painted and used as planters.
The London, England native is teaching granddaughter Leah Foe to host teas.
She presents a tiered plate stand filled with treats like cucumber sandwiches, lobster salad sandwiches, cranberry scones and crumpets.
Crumpets come round, warm and with butter, and Frers confidently tops hers with clotted cream and lemon curd.
“Nobody’s watching you. Some people put everything on it and it’s standing up here,” said Frers, holding her hand a few feet over the little crumpet.
Almost as important as the crumpet, clotted cream and lemon curd is the china on which it all sits.
Frers’ daughter Amanda Kitto is overseeing china as we snack, switching out a large china cabinet for the holidays.
They have sets for every holiday, from St. Patrick’s Day to New Year’s Day.
Final question for Frers: Do you hold your pinky out to look fancier when sipping tea?
“Let’s talk about the Queen. I mean she’s never been seen like this,” said Frers, waving her pinky finger about.
Frers is a good sport. So as the Queen does, so do we when learning the ins and outs of tea.
And we see three generations, bound together by a little leaf and a big tradition.